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Dear Daisy, It is your first day at school...

A Mother - Daughter Day

It doesn't happen very often but I thought I would have a day to myself, well a day with my mum at least. Minus the children. And when I say a day I mean just a few hours as for some reason I just can't drag myself away from those cheeky cherubs even though some days I feel like running away from them!

My mum works in a school and so has the summer holidays off and so we thought why not make the most of it, we don't often get the chance to spend time together like this. Our visits now a days are spent chasing around children, stopping them raiding the biscuit tin and ransacking the house!



I had recently been sent a challenge and so thought I would tackle that while on our day out too. I was asked by Fenetic wellbeing to check out places in my local town to see how accessible they were for wheelchair users.I don't use a wheelchair but I am very rarely without a pushchair and so am more than aware that there are plenty of places that just don't accommodate them.

First we hit the town and headed to various different stores before hitting Superdrug. I was after a bit of a refresh of my makeup bag after having a throw out session a few days before. It was really interesting looking at our girly day with a new pair of eyes, those of a wheelchair user or as pushchair user at least. The store was all on one level and had automatic doors so relatively easy to navigate, although the cages on the shop floor that were being used to restock the shelves did cause a bit of a challenge.

We then went out for lunch and decided to go to the Nandos right by the cinema. Again it was all on one level and the spaces between the tables were plenty wide enough for a wheelchair user to get through. However I did find the lack of an automatic door to be an issue and also the height of the counter where you order your food. This really surprised me for such a large chain of restaurants and wasn't something I had thought of before.

To finish our day off we headed to Cineworld and went to watch a film, Me before you. What a tear jerker! I had already read the book so was well aware of how emotional it was! I don't go to the cinema very often as I am not all that into films and find that it can be so expensive too. To get into the cinema they have large doors which sadly once again were not automatic, if I had been with the pushchair I would have had to wrestle it to get in. They were really heavy too so I have no idea how a wheelchair user would have got in! Other than that though I would see no issues as it was all on one level, good counter height and the toilet facilities were good.

It was such a lovely day out and something we should definitely do more often,

Hayley xxx

*Collaboration but all opinions are my own

Visiting Venice as a young family

Venice is pretty spectacular. That's not the kind of word I tend to use very often but it just seems to fit in this instance. 




Venice with kids is perhaps not the same kind of romantic trip as it might be as a couple, but it can still be enjoyed with little ones and it's still just as amazing.  

If we are honest it is fairly unlikely Daisy will ever remember her trip to Venice, she was just under 2 years old after all. But she had a great time while we were there and we captured some memories for her to look back on. 






We found ourselves just walking about taking it all in but did end up on the main square a few times. We aren't made of money and so the idea of a coffee in Piazza San Marco wasn't too appealing, as much as I would have loved to have sat and watched everyone scurrying past while having an Aperol. It just wouldn't have been worth it with a toddler to have to chase about. But we did spend quite a lot of time say in the square and wandering about. Daisy had a little boogy to the orchestra outside one of the cafes, chased the pigeons around the square and sat on the step to enjoy a gelato in the square. She may not remember those moments but as parents we will. 





We didn't visit the museums and do much of the "adult" type visits because Daisy just wouldn't have been interested. But if I'm honest I was happy to just roam about and explore the city. We hopped on water taxis from one side to the other and just enjoyed the time rambling about stopping for a coffee, gelato or pizza en route! 

We had Daisy in her carrier most of the time as I really would not recommend a pushchair in Venice. The grounds uneven, it's busy and there are lots of obstacles to tackle and I can't imagine it would be pleasant trying to do that with a buggy! I did a review here all about how we used it on our travels. 

Venice is a bit of a maze, albeit a very pretty one that makes you feel like you're in a story rather than real life. It’s fairly small, and even if you do get lost, you will soon find signs on the walls pointing to the Rialto Bridge, Piazza San Marco, or Ferrovia (train station) which helps you to guide yourself.  
We did just two days in Venice before heading to the lakes and we stayed outside of the main city in a hotel, mainly because hotels within the canals are crazy money and secondly we wanted to be by the train station for our transport links.






One day I would love to return for the weekend and just take it much slower, eat more food, drink more coffee and Aperol (I was pregnant with Alex when we were there last!)  and ideally stay in the city to see how different it is when you experience it that way.

Hayley X

Have you ever considered taking shared parental leave?



Have you ever thought about sharing your maternity leave? Splitting it with your partner? It's all very modern day family isn't it? 

We did the same principle (it was called something else then) with Daisy and we are in the middle of doing it with Alex at the moment. 

Basically this time we have been able to split our "leave" into 3 blocks, I am having the first 5 months, Ben then goes off to have the next two while I return to work and then I return back to being on leave for the remaining few months. 

I often get asked why and well there is not just one answer to give. Part of is on financial but then there are other factors such as wanting to keep my hand in work (sad I know, but I do have to return one day and I don't want to feel like I've been gone forever), I want to make it easier to return when I eventually do full time and Ben gets time to spend with Alex that he will not get again, not in one big block anyway. 

Yes the statutory pay will still not be wonderful but that's a downfall we would have to deal with if it was me who took the whole maternity leave, so either way it's tricky. 

I'm not saying I wouldn't choose to have the leave to myself or more so that I wouldn't go back to work at all if I could have a choice because of course I want to spend all of my time with my babies if I can, as much as it's actually easier to go to work in my opinion than look after two very demanding mini people at times (not the same for everyone I know!)! Oh to drink a hot cup of tea or not have your lunch sat going stale all afternoon! 

I did a mini little video all about it here so I won't go into too much detail:




Hayley xxx

Tried & Tested: The Connecta sling

I adored "wearing" Daisy and pretty much stuck to a stretch wrap such as an Ama wrap that I mastered after watching YouTube videos. I still love this kind of wrap mainly because of how close it brings baby to you and how almost immediately you can feel baby go heavy with being so close and content.

With a pesky toddler in tow though I felt I needed another option for those days that I don't have time to tinker about and also to avoid a double pushchair at all costs! I'm too tight to splash out on that option and logistically I don't fancy it one teeny bit! 

I was telling a friend all of the above and she offered me her Connecta to try out. At first glance I looked at all of the straps and thought it looked like a puzzle, a bit complicated. 



But when you open it out it all just makes sense, it's got arm hole/ straps like a rucksack and it kind of just slips on to your front. You adjust the length so it sits nicely and then clip closed at the back around your hips so it's nice and secure. 

A little baby can either sit froggy legged in there or with his legs out of either side of the bottom like you see with most carriers.




You can see in the photo above I have got what I call "the sunroof" closed to keep the sun off Alex completely and it makes it snug and dark for when they're snoozing. It also makes a great rain cover but also it acts as a support for wobbly heads in those early days.

This carrier is so comfortable once you have got your adjustments right, I did find it took some tinkering with to start with but then it was just quick and easy to put on and slip baby into. It is still nice to have your baby held so closely and securely to you, almost as snug as the stretch wraps but a far more secure and slightly structured feeling. 

The Connecta Baby Carrier is really simple to use compared to others I've tried, no looking up instructions or you-tube videos like I had to with the stretch wraps! It’s also very simple to adjust – featuring thick set crossable straps, which give you maximum comfort and ideal weight distribution meaning it's an easy ride. 

 You don't need to be an attachment parenter to see the benefits of these slings, particularly if you are on your second baby and need your hands for other tasks!  

There are so many gorgeous designs to choose from, something to suit most people probably. They aren't cheap and actually are one of the pricy options I've looked up but they do last a long time, you can carrier toddlers in them on you back piggy back style! I've not attempted this with Daisy as I don't think we would get her down and it's not the reason we have it but it looks possible! 

The only thing I would like to see is a mini pocket somewhere on it just to slip maybe your  keys in but that is me being greedy! 

Enjoy! 

Hayley xxx

Is Lake Garda suitable for a young family?

Italy is somewhere that was always on my wish list of places I would love to go one day, it didn't really matter where as it all looks so beautiful. 

Ben and I decided to go last year and visit a few places while we were there to make the most of it. We would fly to Venice, move on to Lake Garda and see a few towns there and then do a trip to Verona before heading back to Venice. 

As excited as I was for the trip I did feel a little apprehensive of what it would be like with a toddler in tow. Daisy would have been around 20 months old so not always the easiest time for her to travel. I wondered how she would be in Venice where she couldn't just run free when ever she fancied, how would she take the train journeys between places and how would we entertain her? Never mind feed her when she was just turning into the worlds fussiest eater! We really didn't need to worry Lake Garda is a lovely destination for children of all ages. There is plenty to do with a little planning and most things are accessible. We didn't get to sit and enjoy the cafe patios with an Aperol Spritz quite as much as we would if we were there as just a couple but we still had a fantastic holiday and had plenty of gelatos! 

I will go into detail about Venice on a separate post, this one will be all about Lake Garda. 

Is Lake Garda suitable for a young family?

We got one of the high speed trains to the Lake from Venice and although I am not a big fan of train journeys back home these are a different experience altogether. They run to the minute, aren't late, are clean and comfortable. As well as being speedy of course! The train journey was around 2 hours long and with a bit of help from Peppa pig it went smoothly. 

We stayed in Peschiera del Garda which is a town in the Verona province and stayed at a campsite called Camping Bella Italia. The town is set within the walls of an island fortress surrounded by quaint canals. Hidden behind the town walls you'll find the pedestrianised centre with cobbled streets and plenty of pavement caf├ęs and restaurants. It's a quiet, pretty town that won't take you long to wander around but with give you a nice sense of being in Italy. 

We stayed in a Canvas Holidays lodge but there are lots of options on this site. It is based right on the front of the lake and had all the amenities you would need like restaurants, supermarkets, pool etc. We first started considering the camping option because it was something completely different from our few nights in Venice and also is so much more affordable than a hotel. You also get that degree of independence too, which is always good when you have a small child that needs space to tear around in!

It was perfect for families as lots to do including things like bike hire and a kids club. We actually did hire bikes on one of our last days here which was great fun! Something we hadn't done before so it was memory I will keep forever. 

I should note that we travelled in October and so it was out of season and the park was half empty, I am unsure if I would love it quite so much if it was really busy and hot. Although both Ben and I both said how nice it would have been to swim in the lakes if it had been warm enough, maybe something for the future. 


From Peschiera we were able to get the boat or bus from the centre of town to a few places such as Sirmione and Lazise. It was a great location for travelling about. The transport there is punctual and easy so there is no excuse not to see more of the Lake. They were completely child friendly too so you don't need to worry about that. We did find though due to the nature of cobbled streets and tight little alleys and hills to walk up that the child carrier was much easier to use than a pushchair! 

We also had a day trip out to Verona which was just beautiful. I will share those photos separately too. 

So I will let the photos do the talking now...


















We would certainly travel to Italy again with our children and travel about to see as much as possible. We found October to be a great time to go as it was warm and dry most days but not uncomfortable to walk around in, it was just right for Daisy.

If you have any further questions please feel free to ask,

Hayley xx

Please do not copy photographs without our permission

Travel: Camping Pods with a toddler & baby in Ta-ly-Bont Wales

As a family we love camping and trying out new places, although we do tend to frequently visit the Barmouth area of Wales as it isn't too far away and there are some beautiful, vast beaches there to run on and where the dog can burn off some steam too.



We usually camp in a tent but with Alex being just two weeks old at the time I was a little anxious about having him in a tent. I had a scout around online and managed to find these pods for just £35 a night and on one of our favourite stretches of coastline, Tal-y-bont. On Tyddyn Goronwy Camping Park.



They are set on a field just back from the busier parks, around 10 pods and a few pitches the other end of the field for tents etc. The facilities are limited, just a simple shower and toilet block which I should say were immaculate and clean. It probably helped that you have to have a pin code to get into them, they were just what you need with a young family. There was no shop but we weren't far from the huge Sunny Sands resort which is on the beach front so we just used the fish & chips shop and mini market there if we needed anything.

Set between sea and mountain views and not far from Snowdonia, the roomy, clean and affordable pods at Tyddyn Goronwy are big enough for a family, insulated and secure (you are given keys), with electricity.



Inside the pods there was just a heater, lighting, carpet and electrical sockets. Oh and a TV up on the wall with a DVD player, which we didn't use. So you still need to take your sleeping things, airbed etc with you. I know you can find pods with all of those things in but for the price of these we had more than we needed, they were really good value. No hassle of putting up a tent, nice and warm, quiet and also super sturdy! 








The beach is around a 10 minute walk down the lane past the other caravan sites, although we drove down with all our beach things and children! We could have managed the walk easily though if we really wanted to.

The beach down there is really clean, open and goes as far as your eyes can see. It really is big so even in the peaks of summer you never feel that you are on top of other families.

It is just a short drive down to Barmouth if you fancied finding a few more amenities or if it was a rainy day and you fancied something else to do!

You can find the pods here.

Find video of our stay here too:



Hayley xxx

Dear Alex, you are two months old...

I'm probably going to start to write all of your little updates like this but I honestly can't believe it's time to do this already. 

It actually makes my heart ache to think that you're already two months old, time is going too quickly. I'm trying to saviour the newness of you but fear it's disappearing before my very eyes. You're now fully unraveled, rarely sleep all tucked up froggy legged and don't get half as milk drunk as you used to in the very early days. 

 

As I write this you're all curled up on my chest breathing heavily and giving the odd sigh now and again which makes me smile, you seem to be so content. I say curled up on my chest but actually even though you've got your froggy legs on today you actually stretch all the way down to the bottom of my tummy now, getting such a big little boy. 

You were weighed a few weeks ago and were over 11lbs! You just be well over 12 by now. Daisy was just 8lb at this point so you're certainly much bigger than she was! You're comfortably in your 0-3 months wardrobe and I fear that it won't be too long before we need to start with the 3-6 months! 

 

Please don't stop the froggy leg position completely just yet, give muma another few weeks at least! I want you to stay my little baby for as long as possible, although you'll always be my baby don't worry just not so little! 

You've become so alert this past couple of weeks and you're growing a really placid, smily character. You love to give us big gummy smiles and coo at us when you get eye contact and we talk to you, especially your dad and Daisy! You've got the biggest blue eyes, it's the one feature I don't recognise Daisy in at all. And your eyelashes have the most perfect curl.

 

People naturally always say who they think you look like and to be honest no one really knows just yet, to me you look just like you, Alex. Your skin is definitely like dadas, so much darker than mine and Daisy's! You were so gorgeously olive skinned when you were born and I wondered if it would go in time but it seems to be staying, you lucky boy. You sometimes look very much like your sister did at your age but other times I can't see any resemblance at all. Only time will tell but I'm happy to wait to find out and enjoy you just like this for now! 

You were born with lots of dark hair, which was polka straight in places and stuck up into the air and then almost curly in other parts. You've slowly lost most of it now but it is starting to come through again, not so dark but it still waves when you go in the bath or go swimming. It's so cute! 

You had your first set of immunisations this month too and you were so brave. It broke my heart to see the shock flash across your face, your eyes wide, your little bottom lip stick out and our first real tear roll down your cheek and off your little chin. 

 

You went on your first holiday this month, we stayed in a static caravan down on St Ives bay, Cornwall. It was the hottest week of the year so far and you just dosed away in the beach tent in just your nappy most days. 

We've taken you swimming a few times, first on your holiday in St Ives but it was a bit chilly in the pool there for you and you weren't too happy to be in there! Since then you've been a few times to the gym we've recently joined and you seem to really enjoy it, kicking your little legs and smiling wide eyed! 

Until next time little man, please don't grow too quickly! 

 
Muma xxx

One of those days...

We all have rough days, even those that keep their cool and look like the perfect Pinterest mum have them, or that's what I tell myself anyway. With a toddler knocking around nothing is going to be easy all of the time surely, same goes for a baby! So I think it's important we remember that we don't always have to be "fine", we all have limits and breaking points, it is ok.

As parents I think we experience high highs and low lows, and everything in between. It's how we deal with them that matters.


You know when you just have one of those days that makes you wish it away? Makes you want to be elsewhere, doesn't matter where just somewhere else? Makes you think you're doing something wrong, you must be? Makes you think your child must really not like you, I mean why else would they be like this? 

I could go on, but you get the picture. And if you too are the owner of a small child then hopefully you're nodding in agreement and not thinking what is she on about, if you are thinking that then go you, supermum! 

Recently we have been having some difficult days, more like hours really, usually when Daisy just doesn't want to cooperate for what ever reason and will just have a melt down making things really difficult. Usually I don't know the reason why it started and so resolving it is difficult and takes a lot of distraction! They seem to just come from no where. We can be playing nicely together and all of a sudden the tantrum begins and she can get so into it that it's hard to break her out of it. 

Take last night for example, one minute she is busy playing before her bath happy as Larry, the next we have screaming, shouting, throwing things out of no where. It ended in us sat either end of her bedroom just staring at each other, both as upset as one another. I could actually have cried, what did we do to make her so upset? Somehow you end up thinking it was all your fault, mum guilt strikes again. 

But I like to think we have all been there, maybe not to those levels but in that sad place none the less. Being a mum is wonderful but it's not easy and we shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking it is either. Loving another little person so much can be overwhelming and tiring! Especially during those tricky times.




When I notice that she is at that turning point and I can see the frustration building I try to go to her level and talk to her, help her understand what ever it is that's annoying her or find out what is that's upsetting her so we can get over it and move on. But on these random, thankfully rare (doesn't feel like it this week!) occasions there is no lead up to the major event!! So we have no warning of what is to come, we just have to deal with the aftermath! 

The hardest thing is even though deep down you know it's not something you've done, you still look for reasons you could be to blame. You still go to bed feeling sad that they were so upset, when in reality you did all you could. 

At times like this I just try to think of the good times, happy days and focus on that as they far out weigh those "battle" hours that seem to go on forever.




Please tell me I'm not alone!!! 

Hayley xxx

St. Ives 2016 Holiday VLOG

If you have seen our latest post all about some top tips for having a caravan holiday with a toddler then you will already know we have not long holidayed in St Ives.

This is our latest video blog, a little montage of our trip.

I will be sharing lots of photos soon over on the travel page of the blog.

Hayley xxx

I am mummy. I am me.

I I am mummy. I am me. 

 

I've been having a few conversations lately and have read a few things about how sometimes you can lose yourself as a mum, and well just not feel like you. You get so wrapped up in your little Wolfpack that somehow you forget you have your own identity and that you have needs too. 

I actually don't agree, I completely see how someone would though and I'm sure I've said it before now and meant it.

But thinking about it, is this not our newly formed identity? I may well be mummy, but that is most certainly me now and I love it. I may not be the old carefree independent me but I'm pretty glad about that actually. I may have lost my birth name the majority of the time and even my husband may call me mum but I am still Hayley, just a slightly different version as well I have aged and well reproduced these two little people! 


 

However there are still small points of those chats that have stuck with me. Just because we've changed into this new "me" doesn't mean we have to leave everything behind. And this has got me thinking. What did I love to do before children? Why don't I do it now? 

There's a bit of a list of things and 90% of things I don't miss and wouldn't want to waste my time on. However, for example I miss the excitement of planning those special breaks with the girls, the type you do just a few times a year that takes you somewhere new, or to see something you've never seen before. I used to love organising these trips and well I guess I just forgot about that, not that I can't or shouldn't be experiencing them, I just forgot! 

I forgot that I like to wear nice clothes, I like browsing ASOS and putting in orders that I'll no doubt return 50% of! This point may have come from the fact that I've had to think about expanding tummies, boobs and being breastfeeding friendly. But ASOS accommodate this too you know woman! 

 

I even forgot I like a soak in the bath.
To do my nails.
Read a book. 
Watch a film. 

So we've got some breaks being planned in as we speak, one that actually isn't all too far away and makes me a little nervous but excited all the same! I know my babies will be just fine with their daddy, like they always are. Or who ever else they may be left with. I have no issue leaving them but I just never need to very often. I talk like I'm a pro at this mothering thing but I'm yet to leave little A, he is only 8 weeks though so I'm sure I'll let myself off! I'm not giving up these squishy new cuddles for just any old thing. 

I've started browsing the online stores again, and yep I even put some orders on. And I sent half of it back! Why change a habit of a lifetime? 

I am me. Mummy. 

But I can still do the other things I love. 

Hayley xxx